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Media measurement is undergoing sweeping changes as the relevance of small panels representing the viewing behavior of massive audiences seems farther and farther removed from the reality of today’s media landscape where viewing occurs across a variety of platforms at a time of the individual viewer’s liking.
In response to these changes, a data-driven measurement model that gives advertisers more relevant information upon which to make their media decisions is the answer, says Bill Livek, CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of Comscore.
Having experience in both TV and digital measurement uniquely positions Comscore to measure cross-platform viewing and truly analyze how audiences are consuming and engaging with content, he says.
In this interview, Livek discusses media measurement in today’s cross-platform viewing world, the importance of large data sets and deduplication of media impressions to ensure an accurate measurement of reach, how a commitment to respecting privacy in the use and collection of data is critically important to the data-driven media measurement model and the value of having an understanding of traditional TV as well as digital in generating an accurate picture of the viewing public.
Q: Over the last year-and-a-half, the media industry has been faced with a number of unique challenges when it comes to measuring how content is being consumed across platforms. When considering everything from increased privacy regulations to decreased opt-in rates, what does the future of media measurement look like?
Bill Livek: We in the industry spend a lot of time talking about the future of media, but the fact is, that future is already here. Media – from the way it’s consumed to the way it’s measured – has been in a constant state of evolution, and the pandemic only accelerated these changes. In the past, small panels could plausibly be used as the foundation of audience measurement, but the combination of low response rates and media fragmentation has invalidated that approach, spelling the end for the days when panels were sufficient at measuring media usage on their own. We can no longer rely on the same approach we used when there were only a handful of television networks all being viewed from the same platform. For modern media measurement to be effective, it needs to be based on passively collected, large data sets. Advertisers want a holistic, cross-platform view of the audience they’re paying for, and impressions are the common language across media inventory.
Q: As we continue to see fragmentation of where video content can be consumed, how must measurement solutions evolve to address these growing challenges in both the buying and selling of media?
BL: In order for advertisers to measure true reach and apply frequency management to their messaging, media impressions need to be properly deduplicated. This amount of detail can only be obtained by data, not by small, recruited – and inevitably biased – panels. Deduplication requires scale, and a data-driven, census-like approach is the most reliable way to achieve this. Historically, television has used content consumption as a proxy for advertising exposure. With increased insertion capabilities within content, coupled with the need for cross-platform reporting, that reporting has to support a content-view and an advertising-view. As consumer privacy becomes increasingly visible and important, only large data sets – combined with advanced methodologies that use panels to train algorithms able to properly deduplicate impressions within digital and across media types – will survive the future.
Q: As the shift towards these new measurement approaches occurs, is there also a necessary shift in the profile of companies best suited to solve for these challenges? What does the measurement company of the future look like?
BL: Modern media measurement must be built by a company grounded in technology, big data management, and privacy-committed practices. A panel-centric approach to measurement simply isn’t equipped to analyze the new world order. To properly measure viewing, media consumption, and consumer behavior in today’s modern landscape, a technological background – as well as a deep understanding of measurement – is necessary. Comscore, with decades of experience with both panel and census-like data assets, has the tools and the knowledge to deliver on this promise. In fact, the ANA recently selected Comscore to test the Virtual People ID (VID) methodology in the U.S. for these exact reasons.
Q: There’s more and more talk about the importance of connecting with targeted consumers, regardless of the media being used to reach them. How do target audiences become the standard of all media measurement when, traditionally, linear television has been focused on age/gender? What is required to make this shift?
BL: When it comes to connecting with target consumers across platforms in today’s media landscape, it’s all about advertiser-defined target audiences, not age and gender demos. Age and gender demos were historically used for targeting because these demos were all small samples, and panels could support them. Thankfully, today’s advertisers are no longer limited to this outdated method and can use actual consumer information to reach their target audiences and evaluate their media choices. A data-driven measurement approach that uses consumer information allows advertisers to make more informed choices. Today, even the very concept of gender has evolved from the oversimplified binary definition used by past generations. We have a responsibility to respect changing norms in personal identities, in measurement as with elsewhere in life.
Q: In media measurement, there seems to be a shift from panel management to information management. What is the importance of privacy and trust in this new world, and what do measurement companies, like Comscore, and suppliers of the information, like the set-top box providers, need to keep in mind?
BL: There’s no question that a commitment to privacy is of the utmost importance when it comes to working with media and consumer data. This includes not just how the data is used, but also how it’s collected. Using large-scale information from the source is required to passively collect the data needed to measure true media consumption. It’s through our decades-long track record of providing transparency in data collection, choice for consumers, and alignment with international privacy and security standards that Comscore has gained the trust of information suppliers across the industry.
Q: The TV and digital worlds are converging, not just in how content consumption is measured, but in how inventory is bought and sold, as well. What is required in media measurement to succeed in this new blended eco-system?
BL: To succeed in today’s blended media ecosystem, deep experience in both TV and digital measurement is required. As the traditional TV and digital worlds have converged, the metrics and techniques used to measure effectively have blended to create cross-platform measurement. Comscore’s roots as a data-driven technology company position us as the only measurement source equipped with the tools and expertise needed to provide the systems capable of analyzing how audiences consume content today. Comscore’s big data-based approach accurately measures the different ways that consumers engage with content, and we do so with a passive measurement system that does not require viewer input. This is the most effective way to generate a predictable and stable picture of the 21st century viewing public. Put simply: Comscore is the future of measurement.
Comscore (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms. With a data footprint that combines digital, linear TV, over-the-top and theatrical viewership intelligence with advanced audience insights, Comscore allows media buyers and sellers to quantify their multiscreen behavior and make business decisions with confidence. A proven leader in measuring digital and TV audiences and advertising at scale, Comscore is the industry’s emerging, third-party source for reliable and comprehensive cross-platform measurement.
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